A few years ago, the editors of Guitar World magazine compiled what we feel is the ultimate guide to the 100 Greatest Guitar Solos of All Time.
The list, which has been quoted by countless artists, websites and publications around the world, starts with Richie Sambora's work on Bon Jovi's “Wanted Dead or Alive” (Number 100) and builds to a truly epic finish with Jimmy Page's solo on "Stairway to Heaven" (Number 1).
To quote our "Stairway to Heaven" story that ran with the list, "If Jimmy Page is the Steven Spielberg of guitarists, then 'Stairway' is his Close Encounters."
We've kicked off a summer blockbuster of our own — a no-holds-barred six-string shootout. We're pitting Guitar World's top 64 guitar solos against each other in an NCAA-style, 64-team single-elimination tournament. Every day, we will ask you to cast your vote in a different guitar-solo matchup as dictated by the 64-team-style bracket.
You can vote only once per matchup. The voting for each matchup ends as soon as the next matchup is posted (Basically, that's one poll per day during the first round of elimination, including weekends and holidays).
In some cases, genre will clash against genre; a thrash solo might compete against a Southern rock solo, for instance. But let's get real: They're all guitar solos, played on guitars, by guitarists, most of them in some subset of the umbrella genre of rock. When choosing, it might have to come down to, "Which solo is more original and creative? Which is more iconic? or Which one kicks a larger, more impressive assemblage of asses?"
Today, we go vintage as Eric Clapton's work on Cream's classic live recording of "Crossroads" (10) goes up against Joe Satriani's "Satch Boogie" (55). Get busy! You'll find the poll at the bottom of the story.
Winner: "Mr. Crowley" (63.3 percent)
Loser: "Sweet Child O' Mine" (36.7 percent)
Round 1, Day 11: "Crossroads" Vs. "Satch Boogie"
Soloist: Eric Clapton
Album: Cream—Wheels of Fire (Polydor, 1968)
For more than three decades, Eric Clapton has been bemused by his fans’ adulation of his solo on Cream’s radical reworking of bluesman Robert Johnson’s signature tune, “Crossroads.”
“It’s so funny, this,” Clapton says. “I’ve always had that held up as like, ‘This is one of the great landmarks of guitar playing.’ But most of that solo is on the wrong beat. Instead of playing on the two and the four, I’m playing on the one and the three and thinking, That’s the off beat. No wonder people think it’s so good—because it’s f---ing wrong.” [laughs]
And what they played is what you hear; contrary to a persistent, widely held rumor, the solo on “Crossroads” was not edited down. "It’s not edited and I’ve got an audience tape from the same show which verifies that,” says Bill Levenson, who produced the Cream box set, Those Were the Days (Polydor). “That was a typical performance of the song. I’ve listened to a lot of tapes and all of the ‘Crossroads’ that I’ve heard come in at four minutes and change. They never seemed to expand it beyond that.”
55. "Satch Boogie”
Soloist: Joe Satriani
Album: Surfing with the Alien (Epic, 1987)
"Satch Boogie," track 5 from Surfing with the Alien, is one of Joe Satriani's best-known songs. And if you're gonna have a boogie named after you, there's no boogie quite like this one, with its barrage of tapping, hammer-ons and pull-offs. Fun fact: Deep Purple performed "Satch Boogie" regularly during Satriani's brief time in the band.